By: Robert Shepherd MS, Certified Medical Illustrator, President & CEO, MediVisuals Inc.
When developing medical demonstrative aids for demand packages, mediations, depositions, or trial, the personal injury attorney typically expresses a desire to emphasize the broken bones but may casually disregard injuries to the lungs such as pneumothorax, hemothorax, or pulmonary contusions. When a plaintiff suffers both broken bones and these pulmonary injuries, they often require a prolonged hospitalization — not because of the broken bones, but because of respiratory compromise related to these lung injuries that may require intubation, chest tubes, or tracheostomies and may advance to pneumonia, adult respiratory distress syndrome, or even death.
When applicable and practical, demonstrative aids addressing these pulmonary injuries can be very helpful in emphasizing the life-threatening nature of the injuries and in opening the doorway for testifying physicians to explain permanent lung pathology that may have developed as a result of these injuries.
Negative pressure has to be present between the lungs and chest wall in order for the lungs to inflate during inspiration. A hemothorax (accumulation of blood between the lungs and chest wall) typically is a result of injury to internal tissues or blood vessels that bleed into the chest cavity. A pneumothorax (accumulation of air between the lungs and chest wall) typically results from a perforation of the lung or the chest wall that allows air to enter the space between the lungs and chest. A hemopneumothorax is an accumulation of both air and blood between the lungs and chest wall. With blood and/or air in this space, the ability of the injured person to breath can be significantly impaired resulting in the need for intubation, tracheostomy, chest tubes, or at least prolonged hospitalization.